We live in Weissensee, in Komponistenviertel. It is basically a small quarter of Weissensee, where streets are named after great composers and musicians: Schopenstr., Borodinstr., Bizetstr., Puccinistr. and some more.
The quarter is made up by 3 to 5 storeys buidlings, majority of them are of the beginning of the 20th century’s architecture, all facades are renovated and neat. Some buildings here are truely nice pieces of architecture with vaults, round windows, vintage doors, molding, stylish balconies and penthouses. There are also simpler style buildings, blocks of flats, Soviet type of architecture, but they are also neat and with big green spaces around.
How long have you been living there?
We moved to Berlin from London end of the last year, so it’s a bit longer than 3 months that we’re here.
What do you like most about your neighbourhood?
It is quiet and neat, it has a choice of children playgounds, it is green. And everything, really EVERYTHING is within a walking distance: a range of supermarkets and pharmacies, Weissensee health centre and cosmetics & beauty salons, kindergardens and schools, cinema house ‘Kino Toni’, bars and restaurants, kids toys and clothes shops, churches, libraries.
Are there any aspects you don’t like about your neighbourhood?
The only disadvantage of Komponistenviertel from my point of view is that it’s a bit too far from city parks. I think we are a bit spoiled by London parks that are truely everywhere, much cared for, clean and beautiful.
There are Weissensee park and Prenzlauberg Volkspark in the area, but it takes around 20-30 minutes walking there, and you need to cross some busy noisy streets along your way. And when you finally get to the park either Weissensee or Prenzlauberg, you’ll see that it’s not that nice (comparing to city parks of London).
Where do you most like to go in your neighbourhood during the Spring / Summer months with the kids?
We are already big fans of the animals mini-farm located in Komponistenviertel. I think not many people with kids who live here know about it, it has no street signs, no advertising, and whenever we are there, we are the only visitors with kids. The farm seems to belong to the elderly foundation (Seniorenstiftung) of this area, since it is located within the elderly foundation’s buildings. But it is open for everyone, everyday from 10 to 16, exept puplic holidays.
My son and I can endlessly watch the two pigs and two sheep, chickens, rusters and turkeys, and three absolutely adorable, very well-fed (actually almost fat;)), shiny-furred rabbits living there!
When the weather is warmer finally, we’re sure to go to Weissensee park to feed the ducks and swans of its big lake.
Where do you most like to go in your neighbourhood during the Autumn / Winter months with the kids?
I think as regards Komponistenviertel there is no big difference in places to go to with kids according to seasons. The same playgounds, the animal farm, the lake in Weissensee park.
Are you aware of many other international families living in your neighbourhood?
I’d love to know some, but we’re still quite new here and haven’t yet met any international families. Anyway, I have a feeling that the majority of families in this area are German. I haven’t heard and seen any foreigners in the neighbourhood so far.
Do you think your neighbourhood is suitable for families who can’t yet speak German?
Well, I don’t speak German and I already survived more than three months here :) But seriously speaking I rely a lot on my partner who is German when it comes to booking appointments over phone with kids doctors, he also handles all the matters with our appartment rent, our landlord, registration, communal payments and so on. It’s not much, but still it needs to be done, and unfortunatelly my English is not helping here, since people invloved don’t speak English.
So I think that at least one adult in a family better have some knowledge of German if they want to settle here.
Is it easy to get around your neighbourhood with public transport or is having a car more vital where you live?
It’s absolutely fine with public transport here. Trams stations are very close and it’s a 15 minutes walk to an S-Bahn station. My partner and some our friends use bikes a lot. I don’t think a car is really necessary in this area of the city.
What is the quality of playgrounds in your neighbourhood and do you have a favourite?
All playgrounds are quite nice here. First of all there is quite a big choice of them, around two playgrounds on every street. The quality is alright, they are clean, with thick soft sand on the ground, natural materials equipment: wood, rubber, rope.
The one on Mahlerstr. is for older kids, it has table-tennis spots, basketball ring, spacious place for little roller skaters, for playing badminton, and just for running with a ball.
For smaller kids the most popular playgound in the area is the one on Gounodstr. I was wondering why it is always full of kids and their parents, while it seems to be no different from other playgrounds. I came to believe it is so popular because it’s always sunny there, the sun is not blocked by any tall buildings around, and thus this Gounodstr. playgound is always full of light.
Did you find it easy to attain a suitable childcare spot in your neighbourhood?
There are many childcare spots in this area. At least one on every street (the so-called Tagesmutter and Tagespflege).
Are there any bilingual schools / kitas in your vicinity?
I know there is a newly opened Spanish-German kita in the area, I saw the adverts placed on Gounodstrasse playgounds. And there is a Russian-German kita ‘Cheburashka’, it’s not so close to Komponistenviertel, one needs to take a tram to get there (20 minutes ride).
Can you describe your neighbourhood in five words / adjectives?
Quiet, child-friendly, self-sufficient, romantic, nice.